A transparency advocate has resigned from his position with the Seattle Police Department after a dustup with a police captain, according to The Stranger.
For six months, programmer Tim Clemans had worked with the Seattle authorities to create software to redact footage from cameras worn by officers and mounted on the dashboards of patrol cars. Reveal featured Clemans in a radio story earlier this year about the various challenges confronting law enforcement agencies as they rolled out body camera programs.
This morning, concurrently with his resignation, Clemans filed public records requests for the dashcam videos, 911 calls, and CAD logs pertaining to 261 separate incidents, using an automated bot. “I want their stuff to be public,” he said. “I’ve felt from the get go that the public is interested in the wide range of police interactions. If we don’t put out good videos, then we have nothing to counter the bad ones. There are really good police officers at Seattle police, and I think the public needs to see the good, bad and the ugly.
According to The Stranger, Clemans had been working on software to prioritize 911 calls for Seattle’s emergency dispatch center. Despite appreciation for his efforts among personnel at the dispatch facility, in August, SPD Capt. Ron Rasmussen dismissed the utility of the “highlighter” software and demanded that any changes to hardware, software or procedures in Seattle’s emergency dispatch center go through him. After this confrontation, The Stranger reports that Clemans cursed out Rasmussen and was escorted out of the facility.
Clemans initially made his name by barraging Washington state law enforcement with automated open records requests and forcing agencies to develop technological solutions for electronic disclosure. Now that Clemans has stepped down from his position with Seattle, he appears to have gone back to his old habits.